by Dr. Maria Phillips
Migraine attacks are severe headaches that last from 4 to 72 hours. The pain is often on one side of your head, throbbing and gets worse when you move. You may also have other symptoms, such as feeling and being sick or being extra-sensitive to sound or light. About 1 in 6 people who have migraines get what’s called an aura. This can cause symptoms like temporary problems with your vision, or pins and needles or numbness in parts of your body. You may be more likely to get a migraine attack if you are tired, hungry or stressed, or eat or drink certain foods. Migraines are common. About 1 in 10 people will have a migraine attack in any one year and nearly 1 in 5 people will have an attack at some point in their life. Women are more likely to have migraine attacks than men.
How acupuncture can help?
Traditional acupuncture theory sees pain as being largely due to obstruction of the body’s vital energy or qi. Acupuncture needles are thought to act like switches in the body’s energy circuits, freeing up stagnant energy and getting it flowing.
Research has shown that acupuncture is significantly better than no treatment and also at least as good, if not better than, standard medical care for migraine. From a biomedical perspective, acupuncture can help in the treatment of migraine by:
• Providing pain relief – by stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, acupuncture leads to release of pain killing endorphins and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord.
• Reducing inflammation – by promoting release of various biochemical substances.
• Increasing blood flow in and around the brain.
• Affecting the brain levels of a chemical called serotonin, which has various functions, including control of appetite and mood.
Traditional acupuncture takes a holistic approach to health and regards illness as a sign that the body is out of balance. The exact pattern and degree of imbalance is unique to each individual. The traditional acupuncturist’s skill lies in identifying the precise nature of the underlying disharmony and selecting the most effective treatment. The choice of acupuncture points will be specific to each patient’s needs. Traditional acupuncture can also be used as a preventive measure to strengthen the constitution and promote general well-being.
An increasing weight of evidence from Western scientific research is demonstrating the effectiveness of acupuncture for treating a wide variety of conditions. From a bio medical viewpoint, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system, influencing the production of the body’s communication substances – hormones and neurotransmitters. The resulting biochemical changes activate the body’s self-regulating homeostatic systems, stimulating its natural healing abilities and promoting physical and emotional well-being.